WHEN Lachie Weller crumpled to the TIO Stadium turf clutching his right knee in round 12, it was just like rewatching a horror movie for Gold Coast.
The Suns had seen this before, many times, and the ending wasn't going to be good.
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When scans confirmed the speedy half-back had ruptured his anterior cruciate ligament, it added another chapter into a sorry book of devastating knee injuries for Gold Coast.
In their 12-season existence, the Suns have been cruelled as much as any club, both in sheer volume of knee injuries and the quality of personnel they have affected.
Not just ruptured ACLs that usually take 12 months to recover from, but long-term posterior cruciate ligaments and a ruptured patella tendon that have cost high-class players long stints on the sidelines.
During the pre-season it was star young forward Ben King who went down.
King, fresh off 47 goals in 2021 and about to enter his fourth season at the top level, didn't get one minute of game time alongside off-season recruits Mabior Chol and Levi Casboult before having his year wiped out.
Last year, it was co-captain Jarrod Witts going down in a tackle against Adelaide in round three.
With back-up Zac Smith (PCL) already missing half the season with his own knee injury, Witts being sidelined with an ACL was always going to be difficult to overcome.
Although Chris Burgess and Caleb Graham battled manfully for much of the year as undersized ruckmen, the size of the hole left by the 209cm skipper has been rammed home this season as he's charged into Therabody All-Australian contention.
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Just how good could the Suns have been in 2021 with Witts locking down the centre square?
Perhaps two of the biggest "what ifs" for Gold Coast came in 2015.
First, it was NAB AFL Rising Star winner Jaeger O’Meara suffering a devastating ruptured patella tendon in a pre-season match that saw him miss two years of senior football.
Later that season it was reigning Club Champion and former No.1 pick David Swallow who had surgery on the first of consecutive PCL injuries that saw him play just six games over two seasons.
At that stage of the Suns' development, Rodney Eade's first year as coach, they were two midfield prime movers the club simply couldn't overcome the absence of.
Zac Smith had his own career trajectory changed in 2013 when his right knee buckled in an early-season match against the Western Bulldogs, forcing him to miss 12 months.
This was barely 18 months after the lanky ruckman had taken the competition by storm during his debut season, dazzling with his leaping ability and athleticism around the ground.
Smith came back to finish with a 124-game career at both Gold Coast and Geelong, but the early-career injury certainly set him back.
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There's also Rory Thompson.
The 31-yer-old has been one of the good news stories of this season, coming back from two knee reconstructions.
Thompson suffered his first ACL injury in early 2019, then on the cusp of a return, ruptured the same ligament in the other knee late in 2020.
In two full games this year – victories over Sydney and Fremantle – Thompson's impact was profound, allowing Sam Collins and Charlie Ballard to roam a little further from the defensive goalsquare.
Three fit years of the long-limbed full-back would have helped enormously in a young backline.
There was also Michael Rischitelli (2016), Connor Budarick (2021), former first-round draft pick Seb Tape (2013) and rookie Matt Conroy (2021) falling to the ACL curse.
Although not as long-term, even Matt Rowell's PCL in round one of last season took him out for 10 matches, stunting his development.
While the Suns have good depth and multiple options to overcome the loss of Weller, his blistering speed and penetrating ball use is a point of difference that has helped their rise.
There's no rhyme or no reason why its players have suffered so many knee injuries, but Gold Coast will be hoping the next 12 years isn't as cursed as its first 12.